SandForce-based ExpressCard SSD from Renice Technology

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Vladie, May 5, 2011.

  1. Vladie, May 5, 2011
    Last edited: May 5, 2011

    Vladie macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    #1
    All,

    I've been a longtime lurker on the boards, but have finally decided to sign up to share some news I just learned today. For all those of you with ExpressCard-equipped MacBook Pros who are looking to upgrade to an SSD while still keeping your existing 2.5" magnetic hard drive and optical drive, an ExpressCard SSD was the obvious choice.

    There has been a fair bit of mostly positive discussion on the boards about the 48GB - and now 96GB - ExpressCard SSDs offered by Wintec (namely their FileMate series). For those of you who've looked into those ExpressCards, you know that their read/write speeds are on the order of 115/65 MB/s (and I believe users on these boards have reported similar real-world results).

    Back in February, while browsing around, I ran across Rencie Technology (http://www.renice-tech.com/). Looking through their products, I found their Renice X3 50mm Mini PCI-E SATA SSD. It's a SandForce controlled SSD that was designed for devices with a Mini PCI-E slot, such as the Eee PC. Although I don't own an Eee PC, I found some Eee PC forums and, from what I could tell, the product appeared to be well received by that community.

    As would be expected with a SandForce controlled SSD, the specifications are pretty impressive: read/write speeds are listed as 260/200 MB/s. Their web page lists capacities of 25GB, 60GB and 120GB.

    Now, a mini PCI-E is physically very similar to an ExpressCard, and the ExpressCard interface includes both a PCI bus and a USB bus. Therefore, I contacted the company to see if they had any plans for taking this design and porting it over to an ExpressCard. I pointed to sites like this one where MacBook Pro users have expressed interest in ExpressCard based SSDs for a variety of reasons. After a few back and forths, they appeared to come to their own conclusion that such a product may be viable and promised to get back to me once it was ready. Again, this was all back in February.

    I just received an email this morning (May 5th, 2011) from one of their sales managers informing me that they expect to have a SandForce-based ExpressCard SSD available by mid-month (mid-May 2011)!

    At this point, I have NO additional details, but I will post them as I learn of them. I have written back requesting information regarding costs and capacities. I will also ask for performance data (though I suspect it to not be substantially different than that of their Mini PCI-E SATA SSDs).

    Assuming the price is not outrageous, I do intend to purchase one for my own usage. After I've received it and installed it, I'll also post my own impressions.

    Full disclosure: I have absolutely no connection to Renice, nor even enough experience with them to be able to recommend them to others. I merely post this information because I have very much appreciated others doing the same sort of thing on these boards in the past.

    Further news bulletins as events warrant...
     
  2. pirajv, May 5, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  3. Vladie, May 6, 2011
    Last edited: May 11, 2011

    Vladie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 5, 2011
    #3
    May 6, 2011 Update

    I heard back from Renice last night. The capacities for their SandForce based ExpressCard SSD are: 30GB, 60GB and 120GB. However, one thing to keep in mind is that they didn't answer my question of how - exactly - to buy these things. As far as I know, Rencie doesn't have a "storefront" through which they sell directly.

    Also, Rencie did reiterate that these should be available in 2 weeks.


    As before, further news bulletins as events warrant...
     
  4. Vladie, May 9, 2011
    Last edited: May 11, 2011

    Vladie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 5, 2011
    #4
    May 9, 2011 Update

    Unfortunately, Renice confirmed to me this morning that the prices they provided me on Friday were WHOLESALE prices, not RETAIL. For my part, I still intend to buy one, so I will provide an update when they are available and will post my thoughts and impressions once I get it.

    Further news bulletins as events warrant...
     
  5. Vladie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    #5
    May 10, 2011 Update

    According to Renice, their US distributor, mydigitaldiscount.com, will be ordering some of these ExpressCard SSDs when they are available. Looking at their website, they are currently selling the mini PCIe SandForce SSD (on which - I am *ASSUMING* the ExpressCard variants are based) for $120 (30GB) $190 (60GB) and $320 (120GB). If the ExpressCard SSD pricing will be similar, it appears that only the 120GB variant will have a meaningful markup, given the wholesale prices I was given by Renice last week.

    Full disclosure: I've never bought anything from mydigitaldiscount.com, so I do not know anything about them, nor can I offer any recommendations.

    Further news bulletins as events warrant...
     
  6. pirajv, May 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  7. lauph macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    30 mins from Cupertino
    #7
    Interesting.

    But on my Wintec ExpressCard SSD, my MBP has been able to boot without even showing the rotating rings. How much more snappiness can the SandForce based SSDs give?

    Latency is more important than throughput IMHO.
     
  8. Vurius macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    #8
    I've bought a few SSDs from MyDigitalDiscount for my Dell Mini 9. Their customer service was excellent, as far as I am concerned. When I had a problem with one of my boards dying, they replaced it promptly and without hassle. I'd definitely buy from them again.
     
  9. segers909 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Belgium
    #9
    Thanks for all the updates. Please keep them coming :)
     
  10. eron macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    #10
    I have a Wintec one, and it works well as my mac partition.
    It doesn't work for bootcamp, or as a windows partition. Just cautioning others who might want to run windows on the SSD expresscard as well.
    -

    Also, I bought an old mydigitaldiscount expresscard SSD a couple of years ago. It doesn't boot Mac OS, so I returned it and got some of my money back. Overall a responsive customer service.
     
  11. macbwizard macrumors 6502

    macbwizard

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    #11
    In the past I was looking at getting one of these express card ssds. When I researched them I read nothing but bad things. Failures and corruption everywhere. I hope they've fixed those problems because it's a really cool idea.
     
  12. Vladie, May 11, 2011
    Last edited: May 11, 2011

    Vladie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 5, 2011
    #12
    May 11, 2011 Update

    I edited some of the above posts to remove Renice's wholesale pricing. Companies often have various levels of pricing and it was not clear to me that the prices I was originally provided by Rencie were, in fact, their confidential wholesale prices. Once they informed me of that fact, it was only fair (and prudent) to take them down.

    From my own personal perspective, I don't actually consider $300+ish (since I don't know exactly what the retail cost of these drives will be) to be that expensive for a 120GB SandForce equipped ExpressCard SSD. The Wintec FileMate ExpressCard SSD - the only comparable product of which I am aware - sells for about $220 online. For the extra $100-ish you get an extra 25% more capacity, theoretically almost double throughput and the benefits of SandForce's read/write compression magic. The 60GB SSD is even more compelling, pricewise, if you can fit what you need into 60GB.

    Price comparisons to 2.5" SSDs are, in my opinion, not fair because when you buy a 2.5" SSD, that's your only storage. With the ExpressCard SSD, you can still have a 500GB or 750GB 2.5" magnetic drive inside the machine. I will admit I'm completely myopic on this issue, but it does seem the best of both worlds to me.

    And for those with upgrade-itis, if the throughput of this drive is close to their mPCI-e counterparts, then there would be no need to ever upgrade (except for more capacity) as the limiting factor becomes the ExpressCard/PCIe bus itself (at least on non-unibody MacBook Pros).

    Now, obviously, reliability and real-world performance are going to be key. And I too have read that some people have had no luck with ExpressCard SSDs. At this point, I'm willing to risk a little time to be a guinea pig and I'll post what I find. HOWEVER, I'll just caution everyone now that I'm happy to pass along information and whatever I learn through trial and error, but I really don't have the time to act as a testbed for scenarios I do not use. In particular, I've never used BootCamp, so I really don't have the time to invest to set everything up to use the drive with BootCamp. Ditto for Windows partitions.

    If what Renice is telling me is accurate, I should be able to buy one next week. If that schedule holds, hopefully (work permitting) I should be able to get the thing here to the States and post some results and impressions before Memorial Day.

    As always, further news bulletins as events warrant...
     
  13. backward macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    #13
    That would be awesome. I have a mbp from early 2007 and it could really benefit from a SSD. I too was thinking of the Wintec SSDs but the heat/failure issues bothered me. Any idea if there are any Canadian distributors? Please keep us posted if/when you do get one of these SSDs!
     
  14. Vladie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    #14
    May 31, 2011 Update

    I just wanted to post a quick update to let you know there is no update. :)

    I have contacted Renice, but the ExpressCard SSDs are not ready yet and they have promised to contact me as soon as they are so that I can buy one. Until then, we wait...

    Further news bulletins as events warrant... (I promise!)
     
  15. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Location:
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    #15
    Very interested in this.

    Seems manufacturers have let Expresscard SSDs fall by the wayside. No big changes in 3 years.
     
  16. mactick macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    #16
    Hi Vladi
    thanks for telling us the "great" news.

    I had been looking around for some days and no new fast SSD expresscards had been announced, the only hope is your post.
    Did you hear or sea any news on sandforce based Expresscard SSDs?

    regards
    mactick
     
  17. Vladie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    #17
    July 18 Non-Update

    As I've always promised, the news bulletins will be posted when events warrant. Sadly, there have been no "warranting" events.

    I have tried to convey the information provided to me by Renice as accurately as possible but, as I've posted before, I have absolutely no affiliation with this company. The only reason why I am being provided information by Renice is that I emailed them back in February and asked them to consider a project like this. It is likely that anyone out there who did the same would have the same information I have.

    Thus far I have been rather patient with them only because 1) I do not have a pressing need for this product and 2) even if I went out and bought the competing Wintec product today, I probably wouldn't have time to mess with it for several weeks anyway. As such, I am NOT emailing them every week asking for updates or anything like that.

    The last information I have from them is about a week old (I finally did break down and email asking for an update), and - not surprisingly - they are still "working on it". The email I received stated that they did have a working prototype, but that there were still heat and sizing issues to resolve. I have asked them to confirm they are still working on the product and - to date - have not received anything in return.

    My promise remains that I will provide an update as soon as I learn any new information. I will not greedily go off and hide all the Sandforce-based ExpressCard SSDs for myself. ;) If there is nothing new on this thread, it means I have received nothing more other than that they are still "working on it". If I learn that they have scrapped the project, I will, of course, post that straight away.

    That is as much as I know.

    As always, further news bulletins as events warrant.
     
  18. idkew macrumors 68020

    idkew

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Location:
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    #18
    thought I'd check and see if there is anything new.
     
  19. ear macrumors newbie

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    Oct 5, 2011
  20. jland macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    #20
    I'm fairly certain "Vlade" is actually Renice themselves. I'm also fairly certain that the various other posts at other forums where an enthusiastic first time poster has pointed to this thread are the same.
     

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